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Initial Responses to an Incident of Sexual Violence

A. Victim’s Response

After an incident of sexual violence, a victim may feel a variety of things, including not fully remembering or understanding what happened, self-blame, denial, anxiety, depression, physical pain, and/or emotional numbness. NSU’s primary concern is the safety and well-being of the victim during this difficult time. Secondary concerns are the apprehension of the assailant and preservation of evidence of the crime. Here is a printable brochure regarding your rights and options if you have experienced sexual violence. 

Care for Physical Injuries, Forensic Exams, and Physical and Emotional Well-Being

Victims are encouraged to seek medical care for injuries as well as testing/treatment for sexually transmitted infections (if relevant) from licensed medical care providers. Given the importance of collecting evidence if a crime may have occurred, victims of sexual violence are encouraged (but not required) to obtain a forensic sexual assault exam, conducted by specially trained professionals. The closest location to obtain such an exam from the Fort Lauderdale/ Davie Campus is the local sexual assault center:

Nancy J. Cotterman Center
400 NE 4th Street
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
954-761-RAPE (7273) - 24-hour helpline

Any person can call the 24-Hour Sexual Assault Helpline and confidentially discuss options after an assault. Services provided at the center include crisis intervention, counseling, advocacy, accompaniment, information and referrals, and forensic medical exams for victims of sexual assault and survivors of child abuse. A forensic medical exam can be conducted even if the victim/survivor has not reported the crime to the police (if the victim is 18 years old or older) and presents within 96 hours of the assault.

Individuals outside of Broward County can call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to learn about resources in their location from RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). Victims are also encouraged to seek out confidential resources which can offer counseling and other services related to mental health care and processing traumatic events.

Preservation of Evidence

It is important that victims consider preserving evidence that may help prove that a crime occurred or may help in obtaining a protective order. Even if a victim is not sure what action(s) they may or may not want to take yet, preserving evidence can maximize these choices when a victim is ready to make a decision. If a victim can avoid showering, washing, brushing teeth or hair, changing clothes, or cleaning/removing things from the area where a crime occurred, these steps can help to preserve evidence. It is ideal to have evidence collected within 96 hours, but some may be obtained later. If a victim does need to remove clothing, the items should be placed in a paper bag to preserve them. Even if a victim has already cleaned up from the assault, the crime can still be reported and forensic medical exam/treatment and/or counseling can still be obtained.

If any crime happens on campus, the university encourages contacting the NSU Public Safety Department at 954-262-8999 and/or the local police, who can make a report and coordinate collection of evidence from the scene.

B. University’s Response

This section explains some of the initial responses taken by specific entities at the university.

Public Safety/Law Enforcement Response

Public Safety is the university entity designated to receive reports of crimes of sexual violence, as well as other incidents affecting the campus. If the incident may constitute a crime that occurred in the jurisdiction of the Davie Police Department, the Davie Police will also respond. If a crime occurred off campus or outside of the city of Davie, Public Safety can assist in locating and contacting the appropriate law enforcement for that jurisdiction.

When public safety or police officers arrive to take a report, they can assist the victim in obtaining medical assistance and with other immediate needs, but they are not confidential resources. They will ask for a brief account of what happened, a physical description of the assailant, and any information about where the individual might be (if known). It is up to a victim how much information he or she wishes to share. For example, a victim who has experienced trauma may prefer to have rest from one or two sleep cycles to mentally organize information about what has happened before participating in a more detailed interview. However, the police will want to get as much information as they can, as soon as they can, so they can do their part to investigate what occurred.

Reports to Responsible Employees

When a responsible employee receives a report of sexual violence (which includes dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking), from a victim or from a third party, the responsible employee will

  • offer to provide the Title IX coordinator’s contact information
  • encourage the victim to seek confidential assistance for medical concerns and counseling
  • inform the Title IX coordinator of the information that has been reported (including any known name[s] of victims or potentially responsible parties) to ensure NSU can offer victims information about their rights, resources, and options for reporting and resolving the incident

Responsible employees must take the above steps for incidents that they observe directly, as well as incidents reported to them that have occurred off campus.

Response to Third Party and Anonymous Reports

The university is obligated to respond to reports of sexual violence that are received anonymously and from third parties. In these cases, the Title IX coordinator should be informed of the information and will attempt to communicate with a reported victim in a sensitive manner to ensure the reported victim has information about rights and options.

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